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Vacancies Define the Houston Office Market in 2016

Industries over leased and developers over built. The city of Houston's office market has gone from boom to bust in only a few years.
November 9, 2016, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Sandra Fernandez

"Houston’s once-thriving office market is quickly losing energy," according to Eliot Brown. "In all, 28% of the city’s office space now sits empty or otherwise available for lease, up from 20% in early 2012," reports Brown, using data from real-estate services firm JLL.

"The trouble extends from small engineering and drilling companies to oil giants and their namesake towers," according to Brown, after two years of the worst slump for the city since the oil bust of the 1980s. The city hasn't reached 1980s level of pain, however, thanks to a more diverse economy. "Back then, the city became notorious for its forest of empty skyscrapers. Today, by contrast, Houston is still producing jobs as areas like health care are thriving."

As Brown explains, oil companies projected years of growth and were far to optimistic with their leasing activities in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Developers, reacting to that overly optimistic demand, built new office spaces at a breakneck pace. In 2014, "nearly one-fifth of all the office space under construction in the U.S. was located in Houston."

[The article might be behind a paywall for some readers.]

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Published on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 in The Wall Street Journal
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